I have always been intrigued by the thought of a strata, but never got up the nerve to try making one myself. So this weekend I felt a bit adventurous and got what I needed to make one. I did a search of recipes online and then used the ideas I got to develop my own recipe. It turned out really good. Aaron liked it too. And using the main recipe, you can substitute and change the different flavors to suit your mood. Here is my basic recipe:
9 slices of bread turn into pieces, stale bread is great for this
2 cups mushrooms
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 cups cubed, cooked ham
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
4 cups grated cheese (I used 3 cups sharp cheddar and 1 cup parmesan)
2 cups milk
About 8-12 hours before you plan on baking the strata, heat the butter in a saucepan. Saute the onion until lightly browned, then add the mushrooms and saute until the moisture evaporates and they start to brown a bit too. Remove from the heat and cool. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and place about half of the bread pieces into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the onions and mushrooms evenly over the bread pieces, then top with half of the cheese. Top with the rest of the bread pieces and the cubed ham. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over that. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and Mrs. Dash until well blended. Pour egg and milk mixture over the top of the entire pan. Cover with aluminum foil and chill 8-24 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 370 degrees, then place the covered pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until it is well browned. Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes before cutting to allow the custard to set. Enjoy!
Variations: In place of the mushrooms, saute chopped green chiles and a firm tomato with the onion. Instead of Mrs. Dash use a dash of chile powder and used browned ground beef or Mexican chorizo instead of the ham.
Another variation, used chopped turkey or chicken in place of the ham. Add leftover cooked, drained vegetables in place of or in addition to the mushrooms. Slightly undercooked broccoli would be perfect for this.